Young Oilers fan battling cancer gets own Upper Deck hockey card

oilers upper deck fan
Upper Deck

The Edmonton Oilers have settled into the second spot in the Pacific Division thanks to a 13-3-1 run over the last month. They’ll face the Los Angeles Kings in the First Round next week, but before they shifted their focus to the playoffs, there was one final regular-season practice to hold.

During Thursday’s skate the team welcomed a special visitor — someone who’s become a lucky charm for the organization of late.

Five-year-old Ben Stelter was introduced to the hockey world during a March 24 Oilers game where he was the game’s Scotiabank Skater. He lined up next to Connor McDavid during the national anthems, gave the players fist bumps as they made their way to the dressing room, and even sat in during the postgame press conference with Zach Hyman.

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It was a special night for Ben, who was diagnosed last year with glioblastoma, a type of brain cancer. According to the Oilers, he needed surgery, four rounds of chemotherapy and 30 radiation treatment sessions. The tumor returned and more treatment has been needed.

Cancer hasn’t kept Ben down and since that game in March. He’s attended eight more, including Thursday’s win over the San Jose Sharks. The Oilers’ record this season when he’s in attendance? A perfect 8-0-0.

“It was a cool experience for him and for us to have him out on the ice today and talk to him after a little bit, he had a lot of fun,” said Ryan Nugent-Hopkins on Thursday. “He’s been a real inspiration for us. You can tell, we’ve been rallying around him and we see him in warm-ups and we see him after the game.”

As a show of appreciation, Upper Deck created a hockey card for Ben, which was presented to him by McDavid, one of his two favorite Oilers (along with Leon Draisaitl).

Ben’s time around the Oilers over the last month has put things into perspective for the players and helped form a tight bond between the team and one of their biggest fans.

“I think for most guys in there, it’s a little dose of reality, to realize there’s bigger things out there than hockey,” said Derek Ryan. “We’re trying to build up for a playoff run here, but at the end of the day, there are a lot of things bigger than hockey, so it brings that into the locker room for sure.”


Sean Leahy is a writer for Pro Hockey Talk on NBC Sports. Drop him a line at or follow him on Twitter @Sean_Leahy.

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